Nosa Omusi, Wednesday August 22nd 2018

The year has been filled with a number of  highlights for MEST. We celebrated ten years of training, supporting and investing in African software entrepreneurs, held our third successful MEST Africa Summit in Cape Town, South Africa, and crowned an eventful year with the graduation of the class of 2018 - our largest yet - while welcoming aboard the class of 2019, now representing 12 African nations.

While MEST has always attracted intelligent and passionate young minds from across the African continent, the new class has seen an exponential rise in diversity by having the largest ever geographical representation in MEST history.

This class is made up of individuals from  Cameroon, Ghana, Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, South Africa, Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.  This is double the number of nations represented in the 2018 class!

This trend is testament to the increasing reach  of the MEST program. As MEST graduates go on to create thriving companies  like Kudobuzz, MeQasa and Amplify, more young Africans are becoming aware of  the program and learning what it takes to be part of the next generation of globally successful African entrepreneurs.

[caption id="attachment_7235" align="aligncenter" width="665"] Some Female EITs from the Class of 2019[/caption]

Members of the new class of 2019 competed to demonstrate  their passion for learning, technology and entrepreneurship, and the cohort is filled with stories of accomplished  individuals who have gone to great lengths to be part of the MEST program.

Ahmed Madani, our first Sudanese entrepreneur,  and a graduate of nuclear engineering from Sudan University of science and technology, endured a forty-two hour bus ride from Alexandria, Egypt to Khartoum, Sudan and then flew to Nairobi, Kenya to partake in his interview. After being accepted to the program, he flew another  5,000 miles to get to Accra and join the cohort.

When asked why he was so passionate about joining the program, he said, “I have always wanted to launch a startup, but I didn’t have the courage to. But when I discovered MEST from a friend who was searching the internet, I felt it was the right place to get the knowledge and skills I needed to succeed.”

Zahra Faye, a Gambian graduate of Aberystwyth University in Wales, flew from London, where she was working in real estate, to Accra for her interview. After she was selected, she quit her job and moved back to Africa and joined the training program.

When asked what her motivations were she relied, “For the past two years, I have wanted to move back and be part of building a solution on the African continent. I did not just want to be one of the diasporans who visited and complained about problems they saw; rather I wanted to be part of a collective solving a problem. I believe that moving back to join MEST will reap benefits for years and years to come.”

About the class of 2019, MEST Recruitment lead, Tobi Lafinhan had this to say: “Following the tough hours and miles we put into finding this class, I am certainly excited about the diversity of the cohort. This diversity is not just about nationalities; it is also seen their backgrounds, passions and experiences. Each of member of this class proved many times through the intense recruitment process that they deserve to be here.”

In addition, the class of 2019 also comprises of a large number of entrepreneurs  who were already in the technology and startup ecosystem prior to joining the MEST program. Some of their previous work experience includes Programming, eCommerce, Real estate, Engineering and Science. This new class brings a significant amount of real-world experience to the program.

One example is Todun Osunloye, a Software Engineer  from Nigeria, who was one of the winners of the Nigerian leg of the Royal Air Maroc #RAM747 Hackathon in Casablanca in April. He accidentally found out about the competition a few days before when he paid a visit to MEST Incubator Lagos. He subsequently applied, participated and won in the Nigerian leg of the hackathon, and was rewarded with an all-expense paid trip to hack for three days aboard a boeing 747 aircraft.

There is a lot of excitement and optimism about the potential of the class of 2019, and we can’t wait to see what they are capable of. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories of the people who make up this class.We will get to know their passions, experiences, hopes and dreams as they embark on their year as Entrepreneurs-in-Training  as the MEST class of 2019.

[caption id="attachment_7233" align="aligncenter" width="856"] MEST Class of 2019![/caption]

Interested in applying to join next year’s cohort? Sign up here to get notified when the next application cycle begins for the MEST class of 2020!